NOTRE DAME and senior kicker Kyle Brindza got the finish they had missed too often the last half of the season. Beating a Southeastern Conference team in southern territory only made it that much sweeter.
Brindza hit a 32-yard field goal as time expired, and Notre Dame upset No. 22 LSU, 31-28, in a Music City Bowl shootout yesterday in Nashville, Tenn.
"This was a matchup that we had wanted at Notre Dame, and I know LSU felt the same way," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. "We wanted to be challenged. We were disappointed in the way we played at the end of the year, and our guys wanted the opportunity to finish the season the right way."
The Tigers (8-5) were unsuccessful on a fake field goal at the end of the first half, a call that stood on review even though replays appeared to show the ball crossing the goal line. The Fighting Irish (8-5) also blocked a 40-yard field goal attempt by Trent Domingue early in the fourth quarter.
Kelly watched the fake field goal on the video board and thought the Irish stopped holder Brad Kragthorpe short. LSU coach Les Miles thought Kragthorpe scored and wasn't happy the play wasn't overturned for a touchdown. Miles also wasn't pleased at the lack of better replays that might have shown Kragthorpe got the ball over the line before his knee went down.
"The guy that carried the ball, forcing it, said he absolutely scored," Miles said. "Kids will be kids, but this guy's going to tell the truth."
Notre Dame got the ball with 5:41 left and never gave it back, driving 71 yards in 14 plays before Brindza finished off the win.
"We dictated the outcome by controlling the football," Kelly said. "Obviously, if LSU has the football with No. 7 [Leonard Fournette], he's a game changer. We certainly couldn't give them the football back."
Brindza had missed six of nine field goals in the last five games of the regular season, including a 32-yarder late in a loss to Louisville.
"To leave a program so historic like this in this kind of fashion is great," Brindza said. "It's a blessing for me, but also to be able to help win a game for all my teammates is a bigger blessing."
* At Charlotte, N.C. freshman Nick Chubb ran for a career-high 266 yards and two touchdowns, and No. 13 Georgia (10-3) overcame an injury to starting quarterback Hutson Mason to beat 20th-ranked Louisville (9-4), 37-14, in the Belk Bowl.
* Defensive end Deion Barnes (Northeast High) will forgo his final year of eligibility with Penn State to enter the NFL draft.
Barnes graduated in December, earning his degree in recreation, parks and tourism management in just 3 1/2.